“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
This is true. Caregiving for a beloved person who has a mental illness is so tough. It’s easy for the situation to consume your life. You do need to take the issues of your loved one into your calculations about how you live your life.
This can make you codependent and a little crazy, or it can make you stronger and closer to God than you imagined. Life will be better for your loved one if you avoid codependency.
Need to take your life back?
One of the best books of practical advice I’ve read is “Stop Walking on Eggshells” by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. It’s written for people who have a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder, but the advice is good for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by another person’s behavior. I’ve also used “Codependent No More” by Melodie Beattie.
These books and my own experiences are reflected in this post.
Caretaking is different from caregiving. Caregiving includes the recognition that we have to take care of ourselves first.
Caretaking develops when the caregiver’s life has become unmanageable as a result of a close relationship with another person. The caretaker makes sacrifices that are unhealthy and unbalanced. When someone asks how you are, you tell them how your loved one is. You are trying (and failing) to control your loved one’s behavior. You think about your loved one obsessively.
The truth comes down to two basic facts:
- You are not able to control your loved one.
- You do control yourself.
True Christian sacrificial love means that the sacrifice comes out of life, not fear or need. Take care not to spiral into another person’s distorted world. Yet you can still listen carefully to find out what the person is really upset about.
What they say may not make sense to you, but it makes sense to them. Using your listening skills, you can find places where you both agree. Not sleeping at night is hard. Hearing voices is scary. Being worried about being followed by the FBI and space aliens is also scary.
More information about the LEAP method of communications that, research shows, works best with people with mental illness is here.